From all accounts, Devante Smith-Pelly is a nice guy. The young Canadian power forward has come into the league with his hard nosed style of play, first debuting with the Anaheim Ducks last season after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NHL Draft. That ice time he received was just enough to allow Upper Deck and Panini the opportunity to create the first trading cards of the future NHL star. And this being an era where autographs are king, the young star was given the chance to sign cards for both Panini and Upper Deck. However, instead of providing an actual autograph, he used a stamp instead.
Soon after those cards were available, collectors began noticing the odd consistency at which he would sign his cards. They were all too similar. As no two autographs are ever exactly the same, collectors began questioning their authenticity. Card communities and blog posts began popping up, with the blog My Hockey Card Obsession providing some of the best early evidence. After further investigation and calls made to Smith-Pelly’s agent and the NHLPA, it was confirmed that a stamp was used.
Several hockey sets have been impacted. Upper Deck sets 2011-12 SP Authentic, The Cup, and Ultimate Collection have stamped cards. Panini sets affected by the stamp are 2011-12 Contenders and Prime, however both had Smith-Pelly as a redemption.
Tracy Hackler, Panini's Marketing Manager, confirmed that only a few cards from Contenders were sent out and none from Prime. He also said that Panini has reached out to collectors who received stamped redemptions to let them know directly of the situation. Moving forward, there is no need to worry about any further stamped Contenders cards from making their way onto the secondary market.
Both companies have promised to remedy the situation. Upper Deck is requesting customers who pull these cards to call 1-800-873-7332 or send an email to QA@upperdeck.com. Stamped cards will be replaced and collectors will receive a couple of packs of cards as well. Full details of Upper Deck's plans are posted on their blog.
Panini will also be replacing the cards that have been sent out thus far and sending a pack of Rookie Anthology to those affected as well.
"We try to personally witness as many autograph signing sessions as we can. When we can't be there or someone from our office can't be there, we like to have reps as often as possible who represent us," said Hackler on the November 30th episode of Cardboard Connection Radio. "In those instance when neither of those things happen, we have to trust the player and the player rep. The affidavit that they're signing that says, 'I have signed these cards with my hands,' that has to mean something. It was unfortunate in this case and it's a lesson learned. It will force us to be even more diligent in how we handle it going forward."
He also said that it was safe to say Panini probably wouldn't be signing Smith-Pelly to future deals once this situation is fixed.